LAHORE: The Punjab School Education Department (SED) has announced ending the Shahbaz-era system of punishing schoolteachers for poor cleanliness, low attendance of students, less enrollment and other administrative issues.

Teacher unions have long been protesting against the heavy fines and stoppage of promotion over not achieving targets under the Chief Minister Roadmap.

District education officers would carry out monthly inspections of schools in their areas to check 14 indicators which included teachers and student’s attendance, retention, boundary wall, cleanliness in classrooms and washrooms, Universal Primary Education, classroom furniture, electricity, fan and other facilities. Monitoring teams imposed fines from Rs5,000 to 10,000 on teachers for missing indicators.

They were also penalized over different poor indicators like low attendance of students and they were directed to visit the residences of absentees a number of times to convince their parents to ensure their children’s presence in school.

Teachers unions lodged complaints time and again with the department against fines over missing facilities, saying teachers could not be hold responsible for poor cleanliness and absence of drinking water, electricity and furniture in schools. They demanded the posting of sweepers to ensure cleanliness and provision of funds for fixing water, sanitation, electricity and other issues.

Unions protested against the imposition of fine and stopping their promotion over poor indicators several times and termed it injustice.

SED Secretary Irum Bokhari told Dawn it was not the duty of teachers to clean school as there should a sweeper to do the job. She said in the past some teachers were forced to clean washrooms and they were also fined for poor enrollment in the school, not having drinking water and other facilities.

Ms Bukhari said the department was working to devise a new framework under which CEOs, DEAs, DEOs and administration of the school would be answerable to the department and penalised for any poor indication.

She tweeted: “Imposition of fines based upon unreasonable indicators is being stopped forthwith. I will issue directions to Chief Executive Officers. We will develop a new monitoring framework with fair & realistic indicators in consultation with our stakeholders, the respected teachers.”

Meanwhile, Punjab Minister for School Education Murad Raas tweeted the notification of cancellation of fines on teachers, saying: “School Education Department has decided to steer away from excessive monitoring and focus on school improvement and action management through a new School Improvement Framework which will emphasize incentives rather than fine.”

It adds the SED secretary has directed CEOs of district education authorities that all fines under any pretext would be discontinued with immediate effect.

The Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) welcomed the step of the government to reset education indicators and canceling fines.

PTU Secretary-General Rana Liaqat told Dawn teachers were facing heavy fines and their annual promotions were being stopped over poor attendance of the students, poor results and poor cleanliness.

He said they welcomed the decision.

“The decision would provide relief to teachers and result in improving their performance,” he said.

He said the government was trying to introduce new reforms in the school education department and they should take the teachers on board and social and financial exploitation of the teachers should also be stopped.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2019